Step into the Archie McPhee store and take a moment to let your eyes adjust…not to the light, but to the overflowing bins and shelves of merchandise. This is not your typical inventory. I can’t improve on the website’s self-description: “Archie McPhee store is a vast retail utopia filled floor to ceiling with all kinds of oddities for your pleasure and amazement.”
I know what you’re going to say: “There is nothing here I want.” WRONG! I defy you to leave without items you not only want, but suddenly know you need! In fact, your life has been empty and meaningless without them. Allow me tempt you with a small sample of the 10,001 treasures that Archie McPhee stocks. (Their number, not mine.)
Was there a real Archie McPhee?
Glad you asked! Why yes! Always on the cutting edge of what’s new, Archie–who hailed from Bismark, North Dakota–decided that what Asia needed was the “new” music called jazz. In 1924, he formed a band, the North Star Music Makers, and booked passage on the S.S. President Madison. He even managed to persuade someone that the band would be the musical entertainment across the Pacific!
When he showed up in Seattle to board the ship, he learned that all the Music Makers had a cabin…except him. Undeterred, he took the job of a no-show crew member, and earned his keep while keeping the band together.
Once they docked, the band went on to play in Shanghai, Kobe, and Yokohama. In Manila, they dazzled at the Governor General’s Ball and were given a 6-month contract by the Army & Navy Club.
That’s nice…but what about the store?
Archie’s great-nephew, Mark Pahlow, had tremendous success selling rubber lizards and other essential items out of his home in Los Angeles. One day, Mark decided to put everything in a van and move to Seattle. (Clearly, Seattle is more fun than L.A.) He arrived in 1983 and set up shop in Fremont…perfect decision, since it’s Seattle’s quirkiest neighborhood. Over the years, the Archie McPhee store moved to other neighborhoods: Ballard, back to Fremont, and now calls Wallingford “home.” (Read Mark’s funny and inspiring essay about his Archie McPhee start-up here. )
With more space at the Wallingford location, there is now a new Rubber Chicken museum that will astound and amaze you. Since no one loves and promotes rubber chickens more than Archie McPhee, you get the best of two worlds: an incredible selection of rubber chickens to buy, starting at $1, AND the rare opportunity to learn more about them. Awesome, right?
Okay, I’m really getting into this! What else is there?
Are there any items that are actually useful?
I’m shocked you seem to think some of these things are frivolous! But–if you insist–you can have fun and be practical. Archie McPhee has something for everyone…
Testimonial: How Archie McPhee impacted my life
I confess that prior to moving to Seattle in 1998, I had never heard of Archie McPhee. Neither could I explain the mysterious void in my life… But everything changed when I found the store! Suddenly, I had inspired gift ideas and ways to make work delightful! Really, show me a person who doesn’t smile at The Punching Nun. Or doesn’t want their own Nancy Pearl, Super Librarian, Action Figure! (See, Archie McPhee serves cultured clients!)
I took out-of-town visitors there. I took my grandchildren, who were completely enamored. To a person, there was a treasure to be discovered.
When I was dating, one of my litmus tests was to see how men reacted to Archie McPhee. If they laughed and thought the Stylish Mustache Collection seemed like a decent idea, I’d know they passed the “humor test.” If they couldn’t understand why anyone would go there, we’d never see each other again. Easy way to sort them out.
A final recommendation…
Sure, you have a will and those Power of Attorney/Health Care forms all filled out. But do you really want to leave everything for someone else to handle, when you’re gone? Probably not. I suggest getting this handy 3-in-1 set of booklets to start filling out. Especially useful: Get those Deathbed Requests down on paper. You don’t want to leave anything out…and those last-minute decisions might not be your best.
If you go:
Archie McPhee is located at 1300 N. 45th Street in Seattle. It’s at the corner of 45th and Stone Way, in the Wallingford neighborhood. And…there is FREE parking! If you need help finding it, just call: (206) 297-0240
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